The Art Of Walking

Walking doesn't have the same cache as running. But it's just as good – in fact, I think it can be better, for at least some people. This blog, and my philosophy, is all about making the choices that are best for you, and not others. But here's some food for thought on why you might want to give walking, the poor cousin of the exercise world, more of a chance.

Personally, walking has given me moments of sanity. When I was in physiotherapy for an extended period of time, one of the things I had to do was stop all exercise besides walking (and of course the physio exercises). Because you are treating a muscle imbalance, if you go out and do lots of high-impact exercise, you will automatically use the muscles which are overly strong and they will never atrophy. Instead, you have to build up the weak muscles using very specific exercises while allowing the ones that are too strong to get weaker.

But walking I could do. Granted, it was frustrating that it was all I was allowed to do, but going for a walk is good on many levels. It's good exercise, for one, and when you walk you are doing something slowly and deliberately enough to work on your posture. I am currently hunting around for a good book on walking and posture to review on the blog, so stay tuned.

Many people say that walking is a way that they gather their thoughts or work on problems in their life. Naturalist John Muir said that "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." I'm not sure if he meant blog topics, but I usually have a new idea for a post after the 10-minute walk home from the station each evening.

And walking with a friend is a great way to have a good talk. I read about a therapist who did sessions with clients while walking together because the clients were much more willing to delve beneath the surface of their lives while in motion. Once I spent a great afternoon walking and talking with a friend while we meandered all over Regent's Park. Much more enjoyable than just sitting in some coffee shop – and the scenery kept changing.

I used to listen to music while I walked, but these days I like to open my eyes and really "see" everything around me. There are so many times we're on autopilot. But of course there's no right way, and sometimes when you want your walk to be really good sweaty exercise there's nothing better than some fast-paced music.

People think they walk a lot, but when pedometers were all the rage, I heard about people strapping them on and realizing they actually took a lot less steps than they thought they did. Doing a 30-minute walk every day can be enough to get the health benefits of exercise (it's a much longer walk than you think, my friends).

And walking is something you can keep doing as you get older since it is so kind to your body. Before we took my Grandmother to Israel she trained for the extra walking by taking a 30-minute walk each day. When we did a 3-hour tour of Jerusalem I think I was more tired than she was at the end of it (she's 93, by the way).

Pretty much everyone can do it, it works as a solitary activity and in groups, and it sounds appealing in all seasons. There's the warm sunny afternoon walk through the summer countryside. But there's also the after-Christmas dinner walk in the icy cold night-time air, peeping into all the houses lit up inside and out. Walking is the open arms of exercise.

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